Despite recession fears, Black Friday sales were bigger than many expected, according to the National Retail Federation. The organization reported a record 196.7 million consumers shopped both online and in stores between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday1, which was an increase of nearly 17 million shoppers from 2021. That number could be even higher for shoppers that took part in Black Friday deals and promotions, with 35% of respondents in a Blackhawk Network mid-holiday pulse survey2 reporting that Black Friday has stretched from one day a year to at least a week-long event.
Blackhawk’s research also found that following one of the season’s largest shopping weekends, 41% of respondents reported that they started shopping earlier than they had planned and more than half (54%) said it was due to deals, sales and promotions. Other respondents noted that they started shopping earlier due to concerns about product availability or arrival times, with top concerns including limited product offerings (36%) shipping delays (33%) and items being out of stock (32%).
To understand how American consumers’ shopping plans have played out or shifted part way through the holiday season, Blackhawk Network surveyed consumers on their behaviors, concerns and sentiments following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Key trends from the research include:
Grocery and food prices top consumer concerns
As gas prices have started to come back down and holiday food and gatherings become more top of mind, US consumers’ economic concerns have flipped from just six months ago. Among consumers surveyed in November 2022, their top concern was grocery/food prices, followed by inflation and then gas prices. Since June 2022,respondents’ concern over grocery/food prices increased 10% with concern over gas prices dropping by 19%.
Deal seekers are using savings to offset expenses
More than three quarters (76%) of respondents reported that they have been able to purchase gifts using sales, deals and promotions this year, and of those shoppers, 53% are using the savings to pay for basic expenses like food and gas. Forty-one percent of those surveyed will save the money they didn’t have to spend and 28% will use it purchase additional gifts.
Shoppers are stressed about wasting money on bad gifts
More than half of respondents (53%) are at least somewhat stressed about spending money on a bad holiday gift this year, but gift cards could help ease some of the worry. According to Blackhawk’s 2022 Holiday Forecast3, consumers surveyed were planning to spend nearly half of their holiday budget on gift cards this holiday season. After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, 13% of respondents reported that they will purchase more gift cards than they had originally planned to this year, and of those shoppers, 45% said it was to allow the recipient to pick out what they want. More than a third of consumers surveyed said it was because gift cards were easier to send than physical gifts, 26% said it was to help them stay on budget, and 24% cited available gift card promotions.
Shoppers are indulging in self-gifting
More than 6-in-10 respondents who shopped Black Friday or Cyber Monday this year purchased something for themselves, and of those that still have holiday shopping left to do, 13% are still looking out for gifts for themselves While some shoppers are indulging in self-gifting, others are stocking up. Forty-two percent of consumers surveyed report that they are using holiday sales, deals and promotions to stock up on items.
What retailers can expect for the rest of the shopping season
Despite an early start to the holiday shopping season, 64% of respondents report they are not finished with holiday shopping following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In fact, consumers surveyed report that they still have nearly half (47% on average) of their holiday budget left to spend on gifts through Christmas Day.
Of those that shoppers still have to buy for, close family members top the list. Fifty-four percent of respondents include close family members living outside of their home, 47% include close family members living in their home and 36% of shoppers still need to find a gift for their friends.
“There’s still time for businesses to adjust their marketing mix before the holiday shopping season ends. Based on the trends that emerged from Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping, the retailers most likely to secure sales will be those that offer deals and promotions that provide shoppers with the most value,” added Jay Jaffin, Chief Marketing Officer at Blackhawk Network. “More than half of our survey respondents reported that they started shopping earlier than they planned because they knew deals, sales, and promotions would be available. On average, respondents think they saved about one third of what they would have spent without deals. These numbers are clear indicators that people are confident in their smart shopping tactics, and are likely to continue using them. Plus, more than six in 10 respondents who shopped Black Friday or Cyber Monday this year purchased something for themselves; there’s no reason they won’t continue doing so. Additionally, amidst a time when people are battling economic challenges with whisperings of more on the horizon, people will continue to look for opportunities to stock up on everyday items. Smart businesses will understand that this holiday, it’s not all about gifts-it’s about finding the right deals to help stretch dollars into next year.”
1 NRF’s Annual Thanksgiving Weekend Consumer Survey was conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics between November 23–27. The sample size included 3,326 consumers.
3 2022 Black Friday/Cyber Monday Pulse Survey was an online survey conducted by Survey Monkey on behalf of Blackhawk Network. The sample size included 1,540 respondents ages 18+.
3 “2022 Holiday Gifting Report” was an online study conducted by Leger on behalf of Blackhawk Network in August 2022. The sample size included 2,001 respondents ages 18+.